Alex Ovechkin is setting the stage for an outstanding 2013-14 NHL season if his first two games are anything to go by.
The Washington Capitals’ captain is leading by example, skillfully powering his way all around the ice. He’s already scored three goals and has two assists. More significantly, the superstar has chalked up 20 shots (the rest of the team has a combined shot total of 51). These preliminary numbers are a precursor to one of his best seasons yet.
Yes, the Capitals dropped their season opener 6-4 against the Chicago Blackhawks, and yes, they could have easily lost their home-opener on Thursday night against the Calgary Flames instead of winning it 5-4 in a shootout. However, Ovechkin seemingly has “I’m never going to give up” etched onto his face, and that was apparent against Calgary as the Caps overturned a three goal deficit twice in the game.
Ovechkin is the kind of player who inspires his teammates. There were a few doubters when he became the team’s captain in 2010, but any questions about his ability to lead the club must now be dismissed. When he’s playing as well as he has during these first two games, the team responds and attempts to step it up to his level.
“We just stayed calm. We weren’t panicking out there even five-on-three when they have chance to score,” Ovechkin said after Thursday’s victory. “We know if we going to kill it we still had good chance to win the game and go to overtime. The team have character here. You can see it.”
Ovechkin’s performance against the Stanley Cup holding Blackhawks was magnificent (a goal and an assist), and the Caps could have come out of the United Center with a win if it weren’t for a lot of costly turnovers.
Against the Flames, Ovechkin tallied twice with his patented slap shot and also scored the decisive goal during the shootout. The Flames, however, are hardly Stanley Cup contenders, and the Caps still need to get their overall team performances up to scratch or they’ll quickly slide in the standings. The Caps should have handily beaten Calgary. It’s Ovechkin who will get those team performances where they need to be.
Coach Adam Oates has reinvented his talisman into the confident, sublime hockey player he was when he first entered the league, when Ovechkin scored at least 46 goals during each of his first five seasons.
Ovechkin’s new roommate, Mikhail Grabovski, (yes—the new center is temporarily living with Ovie) is a welcome addition to the organization. With Ovechkin at the helm on the ice, leading Grabovski and the rest, I see good things ahead.
In fact, I foresee a 60-goal season for the Capitals’ No. 8 this term.